“Since the death instinct exists in the heart of everything that lives, since we suffer from trying to repress it, since everything that lives longs for rest, let us unfasten the ties that bind us to life, let us cultivate our death wish, let us develop it, water it like a plant, let it grow unhindered. Suffering and fear are born from the repression of the death wish.” – Eugene Ionesco quotes
In going into Josie Rourke’s / Shakespeare production of Coriolanos, of which I knew nothing about, following a version of Hamlet I was not greatly keen on, I had mixed feeling and slight trepidation. Yet, as many know, you always leave with something in your back pocket when it comes to Shakespeare.
Recognizing another great lead actor, Tom Hiddleson (No, this time not Loki from Marvel Comics), but from Warhorse, and many more, brought some familiarity to the strength again to a potential blockbuster. The stage, in the historical Donmar Warehouse, being one single black box stage, offered limited space but also offered a wealth of creative possibility within a defined and marked stage. The drama that surrounds Coriolanus is that of a public figure and the conflicts that run deep. The irony is not lost on how the blood among family can cause the rise & success of a society, as well as the salvation of a multitude, & the fall of an individual as well.
Power and maintaining that power has many costs, and the graphic nature of the bloody conflicts that to many, marked success, strikes you truly to the heart. With the supporting actors such as Mark Gatiss, Birgitte Hjort Sorenson (I fell in love with her in what, five seconds? – Her strength and fears flow into you quickly), foe and friend Hadley Fraser, Elliot Levey (A strange resemblance to Ben Stiller), the chance to love to hate the character Helen Schlesinger, and the motive behind Coriolanus – Deborah Findlay, as well as many more supporting actors that make this deeply felt and stirring.
A moment where all characters stand as if readying for an ovation – yet being selected as game pieces one by one, is not unnoticed and a creative addition to the unfolding of the tale, as well as the leader, Coriolanus. The 2 hours and 40 minutes are just enough to fill you with the desperation, disappointment, responsibility, and ability, as well as inability of maintaining control in a switch of arenas, which definitely does NOT leave you disappointed as an audience to Shakespeare’s late production of Coriolanus.